Welcome to our ‘News In Brief’ column in which we digest all the news releases for you in no more than five paragraphs. Below are snippets of all the media releases we received from Sept 25 till the end of the week.
Women’s Small Business Awards
Sydney, Sept 25: The 2023 Australian Women’s Small Business Champion Awards celebrated 62 outstanding female small business owners at a glittering gala event. Hosted by journalist Deborah Knight, the event recognized exceptional women in small business. Mel Gholami of Planix Projects received the top honor, the 2023 Australian Women’s Small Business Champion ICON, for her pioneering role in the construction industry and philanthropic work. Other category winners included Jacine Greenwood, Pippa Hanson, and Erin Criticos.
Notably, 33 of the winners were based in NSW, with others hailing from Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, ACT, Tasmania, and Western Australia. These awards showcase the diversity of businesses across different industries, highlighting female-led success stories. Data from the Australian government shows that over one-third of the 3.3 million small businesses in Australia are run by women, a number that continues to grow.
Steve Loe, the Awards Founder, emphasized the need to recognize the significant contributions of female entrepreneurs. Entries for the 2024 program will open next year, continuing to celebrate and support women in business.
BankVic and NextGen Enhance Lending Process
Sydney, Sept 25: BankVic has teamed up with NextGen to streamline its lending process and provide a better experience for its members. This partnership aims to simplify home loan applications, reduce approval times, and enhance processing. Using NextGen’s ApplyOnline platform, BankVic will digitize and automate its lending operations, making it more accessible to members and brokers. ApplyOnline’s tools, including digital identity verification and credit report services, will be utilized. The collaboration also addresses BankVic’s open banking needs.
Mike Ponsonby, Head of Lender Partnerships at NextGen, expressed excitement about the partnership, highlighting its potential to benefit the mutual banking sector. BankVic’s forward-thinking approach aligns with industry trends, positioning it for open banking enablement in 2023. Electronic lodgment via ApplyOnline is now available for BankVic’s broker partners.
NextGen is committed to supporting mutual banks and plans to announce another major partnership in the sector soon. This collaboration underscores BankVic’s dedication to delivering streamlined and innovative services to its members.
Banking Treasure Hunt Triumph
Kuala Lumpur, Sept 25: Hong Leong Bank (HLB) has unveiled the winners of its “SekinGo” Digital Treasure Hunt, following the success of its HLB @ Kampung campaign in Sekinchan, Selangor. The campaign, held from January 14 to April 30, 2023, celebrated Sekinchan as Malaysia’s first “Cashless Kampung” and aimed to promote local tourism while encouraging cashless transactions.
Participants competed by completing tasks at various “SekinStops,” earning “SekinCoins” through QR code scans, cashless transactions, and AR games on the SekinGo web app. The top three winners, Ng Bee Bee (champion), Ng Been Jiuar (runner-up), and Heng Jooi Gaik (third place), received cash prizes totaling RM15,000. Additionally, 18 Lucky Draw winners were awarded RM500 in cash each.
Andrew Jong, Managing Director of Personal Financial Services at HLB, praised the winners and the success of the campaign. He emphasized HLB’s commitment to fostering cashless ecosystems in local communities, supporting small businesses, and boosting the local economy. Through HLB @ Kampung, the bank has opened over 1,400 new bank accounts and empowered 258 local businesses with cashless payment services, extending their community investment initiatives to other parts of Malaysia, including Sabah and Perak.
Bizarre Australian Art Heist
Sydney, Sept 26: Award-winning journalist Marc Fennell brings us a gripping three-part documentary series, “The Mission.”
Premiering on October 24th on SBS and SBS On Demand, it unravels one of Australia’s most bizarre art heists—a crime that occurred four decades ago at a remote monastery.
Fennell’s investigation takes viewers around the world, uncovering an audacious plot and revealing stories of stolen futures and lives.
Don’t miss this captivating journey into Australia’s criminal history.
Strong Q3 Revenue Growth
Ipoh, Sept 26: SNS Network Technology Berhad (“SNS”), a leading ICT solutions provider, is pleased to report strong financial performance for the quarter ending July 31, 2023. The Group’s revenue increased by 12.1 per cent to RM332.88 million, mainly due to higher sales of ICT products in the commercial sector.
Profits also saw significant gains, with a 15.3 per cent rise in profit before tax (PBT) to RM11.90 million and a 14.4% increase in profit after tax (PAT) to RM9.02 million, driven by improved revenue and gross profit margins.
The majority of revenue came from ICT product sales (RM328.63 million), with additional contributions from device repair, broadband services, and various markets. SNS remains optimistic about the ICT industry’s future and plans to capitalize on digital transformation initiatives and support for digital education.
In addition, SNS has declared a second interim dividend of 0.25 sen per ordinary share, totaling RM4,031,949, for the financial year ending January 31, 2024, marking its fourth dividend distribution since listing in September 2022.
Alibaba Cloud Revolutionizes AI Landscape
Kuala Lumpur, Sept 26: Alibaba Cloud, the digital technology and intelligence arm of the Alibaba Group, is making headlines with its groundbreaking AI products and services announced at the 2023 Alibaba Cloud Global Summit. These innovative solutions are strategically tailored to cater to the burgeoning global demand for Generative AI development.
Alibaba Cloud’s expansive range of AI offerings aims to empower customers to create their own Generative AI applications efficiently, securely, and cost-effectively.
One highlight is the PAI-Lingjun Intelligent Computing Service, an all-encompassing AI computing platform designed for demanding tasks like foundation model training and inference. Already operational in Mainland China, it’s set to launch in Singapore in early 2024, followed by a broader rollout across Asia throughout the year.
Additionally, Alibaba Cloud has introduced the Alibaba Cloud AI Acceleration Solution, engineered to supercharge AI model training and inference. Leveraging cutting-edge datasets and hardware accelerators, it can significantly accelerate AI model training by up to 70 per cent and inference by up to threefold. This comprehensive solution comprises various layers, each tailored to offer specific acceleration solutions for diverse scenarios.
Alibaba Cloud is further amplifying its commitment to innovation and digital transformation through strategic partnerships. In collaboration with Red Hat, it presents Red Hat OpenShift, a robust platform for building, deploying, and managing applications at scale. This fusion of leading hybrid cloud application capabilities with Alibaba Cloud’s formidable hybrid infrastructure ensures a more streamlined and productive experience across environments.
As part of its global expansion strategy, Alibaba Cloud has also unveiled partnerships with enterprise customers in key markets such as Malaysia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates. This underscores Alibaba Cloud’s unwavering dedication to serving its vast global customer base and its commitment to exploring new opportunities in the realm of digital transformation and dynamic AI trends.
Samaiden Group and Meta Bright Group Join Forces
Kuala Lumpur, Sept 26: Samaiden Group Berhad (“Samaiden”), a specialist in renewable energy solutions encompassing the engineering, procurement, construction, and commissioning (EPCC) of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and power plants, has announced a strategic partnership with Meta Bright Group Berhad (“MBGB”). This collaboration is poised to unlock fresh business prospects and expedite the growth of renewable energy solutions, with a particular focus on the mining sector across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.
The partnership is geared toward cultivating a strategic alliance with a shared mission of advancing clean energy initiatives. By leveraging the distinctive strengths and resources of both Samaiden and MBGB, this partnership will introduce standardized procedures for evaluating the financial, technical, and regulatory aspects, thereby accelerating the adoption of renewable energy projects within the APAC mining sector.
Samaiden contributes its wealth of knowledge and expertise in clean energy technology and comprehensive EPCC services, while MBGB offers its insights into clean energy technology and resource optimization. Together, they aim to collaboratively develop clean energy projects that cater to the specific needs of the mining sector throughout the APAC region.
Ir. Chow Pui Hee, Group Managing Director of Samaiden, expressed, “This partnership marks a significant milestone in Samaiden’s ongoing commitment to renewable energy. By harnessing the collective expertise of both Samaiden and MBGB, we are confident that this collaboration will foster a more robust and sustainable energy landscape across the APAC region.”
Derek Phang Kiew Lim, Executive Director of MBGB, added, “We are thrilled to embark on this partnership with Samaiden, a leading player in the renewable energy sector. This collaboration aligns perfectly with our dedication to sustainable energy solutions and opens up new horizons for both companies in the ever-evolving APAC clean energy market.”
NextGen and CBA’s Open Banking
Sydney, Sept 27: NextGen partners with CBA to bring Open Banking to mortgage brokers via ApplyOnline, streamlining the home loan application process and enhancing security.
This innovative solution addresses application reworks and reduces customer wait times.
It offers a transformative leap for the mortgage broking industry in Australia, improving efficiency and data security.
As an ACCC-accredited data recipient, NextGen ensures secure data collection, elevating the quality of loan applications for a superior customer experience.
Sophos Earns Customer Choice Award
Kuala Lumpur, Sept 27: Sophos, a leading cybersecurity provider, has once again received the Gartner Peer Insights Voice of the Customer award for Endpoint Protection Platforms (EPP). They are the sole vendor to be recognized across multiple categories, including EPP, managed detection and response (MDR), network firewalls, and mobile threat defense.
Their broad coverage in the endpoint market extends across various industries such as Education, Finance, Healthcare, Manufacturing, and Services, receiving an impressive overall customer rating of 4.8 out of 5 based on 451 verified customer reviews as of June 2023. Notably, Sophos is the exclusive Customers’ Choice for the entire Education market segment.
Sophos Intercept X, their flagship product, has garnered acclaim from customers. It offers multi-layered protections, including adaptive defenses that automatically respond to attacks and robust anti-exploit capabilities. Customers praise its performance, ease of use, and ability to safeguard against viruses, malware, and cyber threats.
Sophos Intercept X protects over 300,000 organizations against advanced attacks, delivering superior security against known and unknown threats. Their Adaptive Attack Protection feature, introduced this year, enhances endpoint security by dynamically adjusting defenses based on threat context.
This recognition underscores Sophos’ commitment to innovation and delivering top-tier cybersecurity solutions to customers. It aligns with their goal of providing effective, real-world security outcomes against evolving cyber threats.
Electric Motor Innovation
Kuala Lumpur, Sept 27: Artroniq Berhad, a key player in the ACE Market, is set to launch a groundbreaking range of electric motor products in partnership with its subsidiary, Artronic Itech Sdn. Bhd., in Kuala Lumpur during the fourth quarter of 2023.
This follows a strategic Distribution Agreement with Indonesia’s respected United Motors parent company, PT. Terang Dunia Internusa. The announcement ceremony at the Embassy of Indonesia in Malaysia featured dignitaries such as Bapak Budihardjo Iduansjah, Chairman of ATEC and HIPPINDO Indonesia Retail & Tenant Association; Yang Berhormat Senator Jaziri Alkaf Dr. Abdillah Suffian, Member of Parliament; Bapak Andrew Mulyadi, Director of PT. Terang Dunia Internusa; and was hosted by Guest of Honour, His Excellency (H.E.) Dato’ Indera Hermono, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Indonesia to Malaysia.
This launch is poised to be a significant event in the ASEAN landscape, reinforcing the partnership between Malaysia and Indonesia and their commitment to sustainable economic growth within the ASEAN community.
As the exclusive distributor for PT. Terang Dunia Internusa’s cutting-edge electric motor products, Artronic Itech Sdn Bhd is committed to shared sustainability values, reflected in their dedication to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles.
At the event, the public can test drive TX-series models, including the TX3000, with a maximum speed of 90kmph and above. These electric bikes also hold the distinction of being the official bikes of the G20, having been tested and endorsed by world leaders during the 2022 G20 summit.
Strong 1QFY2024 Revenue Growth
Kuala Lumpur, Sept 27: PT Resources Holdings Berhad, a processor and trader of frozen seafood and other food products, has announced a strong 14.2 per cent revenue increase to RM131.6 million in the first quarter ending 31 July 2023 (1QFY2024), driven by aggressive international expansion, with China contributing significantly with RM65.7 million compared to RM29.6 million in 1QFY2023.
Domestic Malaysian revenue was RM57.3 million, reflecting a strategic shift, while contributions from Saudi Arabia and other markets showed positive trends, at RM5.5 million and RM3.1 million, respectively. However, gross profit decreased by 15.6 per cent to RM11.1 million in 1QFY2024 due to increased material purchase costs and higher administrative expenses.
Managing Director of PT Resources, Heng Chang Hooi, expressed optimism about the company’s future, particularly in China and Southeast Asia, despite challenges, emphasizing their responsible approach to managing costs and ensuring a sustainable financial profile. Regarding the Japanese Fukushima wastewater discharge incident, PT Resources reiterated that it had no impact on their operations or supply chain, as their primary source of raw materials is from Southeast Asia, including Malaysia.
iWonder’s ‘Atomic Hope’ Documentary
Sydney, Sept 28: iWonder is unveiling ‘Atomic Hope,’ a documentary film that chronicles the journey of a small global community of pro-nuclear activists who advocate for nuclear power as a crucial tool in combating climate change by decarbonizing global energy systems.
Filmed intimately over a decade, this diverse group of nuclear energy proponents hails from countries around the world, including Japan, Switzerland, America, and Australia. Despite their unwavering belief in the science behind nuclear energy’s potential, they face significant opposition from traditional environmentalists who cite concerns such as nuclear meltdowns, costs, radiation fears, and nuclear waste.
These pro-nuclear advocates argue that “science and data are all we have” as they challenge prevailing myths surrounding nuclear energy. In light of the urgent climate crisis, they ask whether it’s time to reevaluate nuclear energy as a viable solution and halt the mass closure of nuclear power plants.
Adrian Chia, Head of Content at iWonder, emphasizes the emotional aspect of the climate debate and questions why nuclear energy is not a more prominent part of the global climate agenda.
‘Atomic Hope: Inside the Pro Nuclear Movement’ can be accessed for free by new iWonder users during a 14-day trial period. Subscribers, priced at $6.99 monthly or $69.90 annually, gain access to a vast library of over 1,000 documentary films and series. iWonder is available on mobile devices through iOS and Android apps, web browsers at www.iwonder.com, and various streaming platforms, including Telstra TV, Amazon Prime Video Channels, Optus SubHub, Apple TV, Android TV, Google Chromecast, and Apple’s Airplay.
Project Progresses Toward Production
Sydney, Sept 28: Variscan Mines Limited (ASX: VML) has made significant strides in its Novales-Udias project, specifically at the San Jose Mine. Key developments highlight the company’s commitment to reaching production milestones.
Variscan Mines continues to advance its underground drilling at the San Jose Mine, with eagerly awaited assay results imminent.
The company has secured funding to support drilling operations through the end of 2023, ensuring robust exploration.
ERM (formerly CSA Global) is working on the inaugural JORC compliant Mineral Resource Estimate for the San Jose Mine, slated for release in October 2023.
Variscan Mines has contracted Piran Mining to conduct a Mine Re-start Study for the San Jose Mine, expected in Q1 2024.
Metallurgical test-work is progressing as part of the Mine Re-start Study.
Dr. Brett Davis will conduct a structural geological assessment and targeting study, with results anticipated in Q4 2023.
Efforts to secure surface drilling permits for the Novales-Udias project and San Jose Mine are in advanced stages.
Variscan’s CEO, Stewart Dickson, expressed enthusiasm for the progress achieved, stating, “We are actively advancing our program to meet our objectives and bring this high-grade zinc project closer to production.”
Stay tuned for ongoing developments as Variscan Mines works toward production milestones.
SCIB’s SCM Secures RM34 Million
Kuching, Sept 29: Sarawak Consolidated Industries Berhad (SCIB) announced that its subsidiary, SCIB Concrete Manufacturing Sdn. Bhd. (SCM), has secured RM34 million in financing. These funds, obtained through various facilities, mark a significant step forward for SCIB’s expansion plans.
The financing components include Commodity Murabahah Term Financing-I (CMTF-i), Revolving Credit-I (RC-i), and Cash Line-I (CL-i), allocated for property redemption, trade enhancement, and operational expenses.
Ku Chong Hong, Managing Director of SCIB, expressed delight at the strong support from financial institutions, noting that this financing validates SCIB’s strategic direction. The additional funds will fuel the progress of various projects, enhancing infrastructure and manufacturing initiatives, ultimately benefiting clients through timely and top-quality deliverables.
As of Q4 FY2023, SCIB’s order book stands at an impressive RM275 million, underlining its strong position in civil engineering. This financing bolsters SCIB’s financial stability, setting the stage for continued growth and innovation.
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